The Basics – How Information Technology and The Internet Has Changed How We Do Business

Introduction: If you’re of a technical nature, you may be expecting to see words like TCP/IP, NAT, Spanning Tree Algrorithm, Subnet Masking, Edge Routers, and Cisco IOS. However, this brief article is not meant for you, it is a concise view of how communication technology has evolved the business sector in the US an across the world.

Information technology (IT), is defined as “the use of technologies from computing, electronics, and telecommunications to process and distribute information in digital and other forms” (ref: Encarta Dictionary.) Information Technology, particularly in telecommunications-based company applications, helps a corporation triumph over time, geographic, and cost constraints to build and sustain a successful business. These three tactical capabilities of telecommunications networks emphasizes how several e-business applications can help an organization capture and provide information quickly to end users at remote locations as a relatively cost effective solution, as well as supporting its strategic company objectives. Using telecommunications technology can bring together not only employees, customers, consultants, subcontractors, and suppliers, but hopefully new potential customers! Some details of the specific areas how communication technology brings value to a company and supports greater profitability:

  • Time Constraints-Eliminated: Provide requested information on a real-time basis to remote users (these can be internal company staff or existing, potential customers.) If you are using a Point-of-Sale operation, credit card approval without hesitation, thus getting closer to a paperless operation. International travel does not have to be in your plans, as this technology can replace these gatherings. You no longer have to spend unproductive hours in airports or suffer jetlag upon arrival/return.
  • Prohibitive Expenses- Removed: Minimize the cost to the corporation for long distance calls, international calling plans, or pay per use video conferencing sites. You may also find the need NOT to purchase that Video Conferencing Equipment and large conference table! Using more COTS communication techniques, utilizing the Internet, can be a very cost effective solution for many companies, vs. the cost of more traditional means of communication.
  • Geographic Constraints-Nonexistent: Present information about business transactions from remote locations. Use the Internet to receive customer orders from your sales staff around the world to a central company database. Merge this information into your order processing and/or inventory control application without human intervention. This approach provides enhanced customer service by eliminating additional delay in processing customer orders and reduces the time between shipment and invoicing, for improved cash flow. Using this technology can remove the need for costly business trips, or collaborative meetings with clients.

Strategic Capabilities e-Business Examples Business Value

The evolving trend in computing and telecommunications market is the volatile growth of the Internet.

The Internet has become the principal and most significant network identified to date, and has migrated into a global information superhighway. The Internet is continually intensifying, as more and more businesses and other organizations (and their users), computers, and networks join this global society. The interconnection of thousands of network routers, switches and other equipment provides the means for millions of computer systems and users around the globe can communicate to each other. These computers are owned by of business, universities, clients and joint business partners. The Internet has also become a key stage for a rapidly expanding list of information, services and business applications, including electronic-commerce systems supporting the public to purchase items directly from the vendor.

Websites offer information and support direct ordering systems for electronic commerce between businesses, their suppliers and consumers. E-commerce websites usually offer all the products and services of regular retailers. Many businesses have setup business-to-business transaction accounts to provide immediate confirmation of purchase orders or inform the buyer of the status of their order. The Internet also provides “discussion forums” formed by thousands of special-interest newsgroups. You can contribute in discussions or post messages on any of these topics for other users, to which they can read and respond. In addition, you can make online searches using search sites and search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, MSN, ASK, and others. To assist in relatively quick and timely communication medium, you can utilize “chat” software applications to communicate in real-time.

This is very effective in getting a quick question answered or providing information to someone in need. Business use of the Internet has expanded from into a large platform for deliberate business applications. Collaboration among business associates, providing customer and vendor support, and electronic business have become major industry uses of the Internet. Companies are also using Internet technologies for marketing, sales, and customer relationship management applications, as well as cross-functional business applications, and applications in engineering, manufacturing, human resources, and accounting Utilizing Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) software, or applications included in many Operating Systems (Linix, Windows, etc) the company engineers can now hold virtual meetings in which drawings can be viewed in real-time, on a virtual “whiteboard”. Those attending can monitor, revise or comment on the drawings as the meeting unfolds. One example is the IBM implementation of “Sametime┬«”, in which global meetings can be implemented using the Whiteboard approach. If the company finds value, they can involve their customers to also attend anywhere in the world. This collaborative effort can be priceless, as bringing experience from around the world may just save an error in design, or provide a cost improvement suggestion to bring down costs of the product or service.

Primary uses of the Internet’s are:

  • Downloading: Transfer data, electronic files, software, reports, articles, information, drivers and applications to your local system.( Insure your computer is protected with virus and spam/malware protection software!)
  • Discussions: Participate in discussion forums or post messages on specialized forums created by thousands of special-interest groups.
  • Chat: Hold real-time text conversations in chat rooms with Internet users around the globe. Text orientated cell phones are now enabled to participate in this means of communication.
  • Surf: Navigate to hundreds of thousands of hyperlinked websites and assets for information, leisure, or electronic commerce.
  • E-Mail: Use e-mail to exchange electronic messages with other clients, customers or business partners. This has become the standard in timely communications between and within businesses.
  • Purchasing: You can purchase anything via e-commerce retailers, service providers, and other websites offering “shopping carts” and checkout applications.
  • Remote Access: Log on to your corporate computer system and resources. Utilizing a VPN (Virtual Private Networking) application is paramount to providing a secure medium through the Internet. This is valuable to insure your data is not intercepted or used by unauthorized users.
  • Video Conferencing: This is the most efficient means to communicate with other business partners or your corporate employees. Using a inexpensive webcam and free application software can make this a very cost effective means to interface with others.

Each year, companies develop other uses for the internet, which as replaced many older means of telecommunications. Gone are the old modems, dial-up circuits, and leased lines. VPN via the Internet has replaced many dedicated communication circuits, as Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) have taken on a greater role. Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) have become second nature where a company is guaranteed a predefined level of service (quality) relative to their data circuit operation. At this point in time, the Internet is evolving again, noted as Internet 2.0. Software as a Service (SaS) is becoming a new business model for developing business applications. SaS allows a company to use application software located on a separate computer across the Internet, to support their business. It is less costly than “buying” the software, as you only pay for the time it is being used. Also, having this as parts of your disaster recover and backup planning can also simplify your business processes.

In 1964 Gordon Moore, of Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation in the United States, predicted that the number of transistors that could be fabricated on a processor chip would double every year. Known as “Moore’s law”, this roughly holds true (actually about every two years). It is unknown where or how the Internet will eventually evolve. However, many of us have not known this medium until we joined the working force. Now our children are exposed to this in school, any many know more about its operation and usefulness than many adults. What will it look like to our grandchildren?